Lesson 3 - "Free conversation in Japanese - 50 minutes" with Aki B

Welcome to the third installment of the "Cafetalk Diaries," where I will be blogging and vlogging about five lessons that I'll be taking on Cafetalk.com. I apologize for the delay with this post and thank you for waiting! Also, I've updated my lesson schedule for the "Cafetalk Diaries," which can be viewed here

My third lesson, as a monitor, was "Free conversation in Japanese - 50 minutes" with tutor Aki B.

Free-talk lessons are extremely useful for me and my current goals. I'm searching for an atmosphere where I can talk freely in Japanese and someone will guide me. You'd think that this would be a given living in Japan, but sometimes it's very uncomfortable to burden friendships and work relationships with language study. My focus as a monitor is on newer tutors and lessons, so I decided to request this particular lesson.

Here is her profile: http://cafetalk.com/tutors/profile/?id=15325&lang=en

And here is the lesson profile: http://cafetalk.com/lessons/detail/?id=21057&lang=en

As the lesson name suggests, this is a 50-minute lesson. (Although she gave me a little extra time!) It's 1,800 points (about $20 USD). She's not a full-time tutor, but she does have ample availability in the evenings (Japan time). She confirmed my lesson request very quickly!

I think she must be very busy! Aki B provides a variety of lessons, not only Japanese. She offers everything from web design counseling to card readings. Our lesson was conducted in Japanese, but she can conduct lessons in English.

She was very professional and I found her style to be motivational. She wanted the lesson to be focused on me, but I really enjoyed hearing from her as well. The lesson, at times, felt like a personalized counseling/motivation session and she encouraged me to take N1. She felt it would be benefit my studies overall and helped me realize that I studied hardest in the past when motivated by tests. It's definitely something to reconsider. I had lost interest because it's an expensive test and I don't really need it for my job at this point. 

I was able to ask her anything, and I wish I had thought of more specific questions ahead of time. I was never completely sure how to refer to my husband, so she said that I should stick with "主人" (shujin) or "夫" (otto). I often hear people refer to their husbands as "旦那" (danna), so even though this is a minor nuance, it's not always best to just copy others' speech patterns! 

Here is the feedback that she sent after the lesson:

Jennyさん、 

先程のレッスンのフィードバックです。 
過去7年間日本に滞在されていただけあり、こちらの申し上げる事も理解されていましたし、特に大きな問題はなさそうでした。6年間もブランクがあるとは思えないですね。 

検定N1レベルは日本人でも少し難しいと思える内容ですよね。 
会話のブラッシュアップももちろん必要ですが、出来るだけ日本語のメディア(ウェブや新聞、ラジオ、テレビ等)に日頃から触れるようにしてください。 
日本語で書かれたニュースのサイトなどは無料ですし、ラジオも無料で聴けるものも沢山あります。 
周りに日本の方がおられないとのことで残念ですが、日頃からこのように日本語を聴いたり読んだりしていると、ご自分が日本語で会話をするときに役立ちます。 

Jennyさんは短い説明は問題はなさそうですが、比較的長い説明が苦手なのではないかと思いました。 
長く説明するには、文法をしっかりと習得する必要がありますし、仰った様に助詞の使い方が少し苦手なのではないかと思います。 

そういう意味でも新聞等の記事を読む練習、長文の読解をお勧めします。 
易しい内容の記事から始めてみてください。翻訳のお仕事にも役立つと思います。 

ナレーションのお仕事は楽しそうですね。 
笑っていいとも!はとても人気のある番組でしたから、本当にすごいと思いました。 
Jennyさんに合ったお仕事ではないかと思います。 
東京でならまたよいお仕事が見つかりそうですね。 

では、また何かありましたらお願い致します。 
頑張ってくださいね。 
Aki

She was very kind and gave wonderful overall feedback. I'm going to contact her again because even though she said there were no big problems with my speaking, I would still like to make it as good as possible. I feel like my current level of speaking in Japanese doesn't reflect that I've lived here for seven years and I've lost confidence. Her motivational skills and corrections of the minor concerns I had were a real confidence booster. I think I would ask her to focus on this in future lessons, as it was very useful for me.

She offered some tips on taking advantage of the fact that I'm in Japan to buckle down on my studies. I do listen to English more often than I should, and I usually get my news in English. She suggested using more Japanese media (which is basically free) to brush up. I've been trying to speak more with the neighbors. I can already see improvement, but I'm also becoming aware of the kinds of questions I'd need to bring to her in the lessons. I remember learning about this when I first started studying Japanese - Some students let their Japanese become a "fossil," meaning that they get to a point where it's "good enough" and then cease to improve. I had been so afraid of this happening, but I think it has! What a wake-up call!

She said that I'm pretty good with short explanations, but I'm not good at longer ones. I think this is true of me even in English! This is something I will need to work on.

She had very kind words to say, particularly about my job. It would be really nice to hear more stories from her. Her husband is Tunisian and she even spent some time over there! She works in Osaka as a freelance designer. She has a wide range of experience. My husband was in the same room while I was taking the lesson and noticed that I was getting a little tired toward the end of the lesson. Language learning can be a workout, especially when you're trying to access language that hasn't yet solidified.

It is good to get advice and motivation about my recent study slump, but I hope that she can provide more specific details. However, it is important that I become able to give longer explanations.

Thank you, Aki B! Stay tuned for the video version of my lesson, as well as my next lesson, "60 Minute Japanese Conversation" with Runo.

Don't forget to watch my "Cafetalk Diaries" intro video and contact me for a FREE promo code for 1,000 points on Cafetalk! (Until Jan. 31st, 2015)

http://youtu.be/Gqfucg4YMV4

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your studies!

~Jenny